I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. I needed to concentrate on work today, not mull over Jackson's bossiness. He was taking up way too much of my thoughts lately.
"Good morning, Marie," I said on my way into my office. "Can you step into my office for a few moments? I have a lot of things I want to go over."
"Of course." Marie jumped up, grabbing a pad and pen, and followed me into my office. She took notes dutifully as I rattled off the things I needed for her to do today, relieved that I had such a capable assistant. I made sure to inform her to refuse all calls from the press.
"That's it for today, Marie. Unless there's anything you want to go over with me."
Marie hesitated, looking eager and cautious at the same time. "Do you mind if I ask you a question about Jackson Reynard?"
I was surprised that Marie broached the subject. Since I had started working for Forrester, she had been nothing but professional. While I loved Celeste, I was happy that my own assistant didn't insist on meddling in my personal life. However, Marie had been forced to deal with my personal life once the press started hounding me for comments. I thought it was only fair that she get to ask her question.
"Is it true that you and Jackson were together before he got famous? That he's been pining away for you this entire time?"
I cleared my throat, bemused that even dependable and even-keeled Marie would be interested in this soap opera. "It's true that Jackson and I had a relationship before he became famous. As for pining away for me, only he can answer that."
Marie looked like she wanted to ask more questions, but her professionalism got the better of her, so she just nodded and left my office although she was grinning from ear to ear. I guess Jackson had been right. Everyone loved a fairy tale.
I was spared a barrage of questions from Celeste until after lunch, when she stopped by my office. She closed the door behind me, looking like she was going to burst.
"You've been holding out on me," she said accusingly although her eyes were bright with excitement. "I saw Jackson's interview last night and I finally put two and two together. I can't believe I didn't realize that Jackson Reynard was the Jackson you were dating while you were at Mass Comm!"
I had been waiting for Celeste to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I smiled at her indulgently as she almost quivered with excitement. "It wasn't something I wanted to remember, Celeste. It was a hard breakup, and then when Jackson pushed his way back into my life, I was hoping I could extricate myself without anyone finding out about our past."
"And now?" Celeste asked, practically bouncing up and down in her seat opposite my desk.
"And now, things are a little different. Jackson and I are going to try and give our relationship another chance."
"I can't believe it!" Celeste squealed. She clasped her hands, looking at me dreamily. "Jackson Reynard. I'd leave my husband for one night with Jackson Reynard."
I snorted, shaking my head. "Don't think I haven't heard all your lovey dovey conversations with your husband. You forget I used to sit right next to you at Mass Comm."
"Okay," Celeste relented with a grin. "I wouldn't leave my husband, but I would still love one night with Jackson Reynard. He's so hot, plus he always looks so intense. I wouldn't mind some of that intensity directed towards me, especially between the sheets."
I burst out laughing at Celeste's outrageous comments, considering Jackson and I were dating again. Nevertheless, I didn't take offense. I reminded myself that people thought of Jackson as a public commodity, a celebrity to be discussed and picked apart. As much as it bothered me, it seemed to come with the territory.
I fielded the rest of Celeste's questions, trying to keep the details to a minimum. After she finally left my office, I was able to get back to work. I grimaced when my cell phone rang and I saw Trisha's name pop up. At this rate, I would never be able to leave work at six.
"Hi, Trisha," I said resignedly.
"Emma, everywhere I turn I see pictures of you and Jackson together. And now he's told everyone about the past and that he's trying to win you back. What's going on? You're not back together, are you?"
I knew Trisha wouldn't be happy with the news that Jackson and I were giving our relationship another shot. She had seen firsthand what the end of our relationship had done to me.
"We were kind of forced together by circumstance. Candace Stile was lying about being involved with Jackson. She just wanted the publicity before her debut as a singer. With all the ridiculous stories floating around about me, Jackson wanted to put an end to it. He and his publicist thought the best way was to tell the truth about our past. With a little stretching of the truth about his relationship with Candace. He didn't think anyone would believe him if he outright denied dating her."
"So this is just for show?"
I hesitated before answering. "That's how it started, but...Jackson and I decided to try again, to see if we can make it work this time." Trisha's silence told me exactly what she thought of the idea so I hurriedly continued. "I know what you think, Trisha, but I still love him. I...I don't think I can be happy without him."
"Emma, I want you to be happy, but have you forgotten what he did to you? He cheated on you with Claire the entire time you were together! How was he able to justify that?"
"He's apologized and admitted that it was a mistake, but I haven't really asked for an explanation. I can't even think about Claire without wanting to scream."
"So you're just letting him off the hook?" Trisha sounded sad and disappointed. "He doesn't even have to be accountable for his actions? I love you, Emma, and I want you to be happy, but how do you know he'll be faithful this time? Especially now that he has women throwing themselves at him. How can you trust him?"
My heart felt heavy listening to Trisha, knowing that she was right. We could never wipe the slate clean if I never got an explanation as to why Jackson had been unfaithful. It had been a constant question in my head, but I kept pushing it back, not wanting to ruin what we were starting. But I knew eventually I would have to broach the subject to truly give our relationship another chance.
"I'm not letting him off the hook. I believe him when he says he loves me and he's sorry. I'm planning on asking for an explanation, but not just yet. There's so much stuff to deal with right now with the press hounding us." I pressed on the pendant beneath my blouse, trying to calm my anxiety.